Last Friday, together with the New York City Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, we gathered with Jose La Luz, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan and Nelson Denis to discuss H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), looking at the history of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and the impact of PROMESA on the people.
We also examined the possibility of a federally created Fiscal Control Board for Puerto Rico in the Spring 2016 issue of the New Labor Forum, with a piece by Jennifer Wolff, senior program director at the Center for a New Economy, on the fiscal and economic crisis and its impact on labor unions. We invite you to revisit that piece and continue the conversation.
Debtors’ Island: How Puerto Rico Became a Hedge Fund Playground
“You could call it a perfect storm: a fiscal crisis converging with a deep secular economic decline. Once touted as the showcase of U.S.- led economic development, debt-strapped Puerto Rico is currently embroiled in a struggle for survival. During the mid-twentieth century, Puerto Rico grew at a rapid pace, betting on cheap labor, privileged duty-free access to the U.S. market, and tax incentives for U.S. companies. By the 1970s, however, the formula had lost steam and the government turned to ever-more crafty means to keep the economy and itself afloat by seeking new federal tax exemptions for U.S. firms, obtaining additional transfers in federal funds, increasing government employment, and issuing public debt in ever-larger amounts. By the year 2000, the government ran on ever-larger deficits. The dance came to a screeching halt in 2014, when Puerto Rico’s debt was degraded to junk status and the island was effectively shut out of the financial markets. Read more.
The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.
This week’s newsletter focuses on the debt crisis in Puerto Rico – its roots, its likely impact on poor and working-class Puerto Ricans, and a look at the political impact that those who flee the beleaguered economy could have as they relocate to the United States. First, Jennifer Wolff explores the efforts of the island’s divided labor movement to respond to the crisis. Watch our Editorial Board member,Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News columnist and Democracy Now! host, discuss the role that colonialism has played in the catastrophe. We close with an article from the Los Angeles Times that examines the 2016 election cycle implications of having nearly 1,000 Puerto Ricans (and potential voters) settle in the swing-state of Florida each month.
No matter where they might fall on the political spectrum, it seems like everyone’s got something to say about the presidential candidates — and it’s only August. And in the space of it — in no small part due to the tactics of some #BlackLivesMatter activists — people are talking about racial justice. Here’s some of what’s been happening in progressive circles and beyond:
#BlackLivesMatter activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, setting off a progressive firestorm, question of allyship and tactics, and more. Dara Lind gives a good summary of the way it’s all shaken out over at Vox. The upshot, at least in the short-term? The Bernie Sanders campaign has released a racial justice platform.
The one year anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO came the past week, and with it, demonstrations and arrests — including the arrest of Cornel West — over a “weekend of resistance” to the ongoing assault on black lives in the United States.
Meanwhile, California has banned secret juries and affirmed the right to film police (via DemocracyNow!)
More coverage of the toll that unpredictable schedules is taking on the lives of workers, this time in the form of a NYTimes editorial by Teresa Tritch. A choice excerpt: “being on-call, even when one is not called, decreases an employee’s well-being and increases the need for “recovery,” (read: sleep and time off).” Meanwhile, Sabri Ben-Achour at Marketplace.org asks: Will last-minute work soon be history?
Academic freedom may soon be a memory in the state of Wisconsin, thanks to new policies pushed forward by Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin State Legislature (via the Guardian).
4000 workers have gone on an indefinite strike at a GM plant in Brazil in the face of ongoing layoffs (via LaborNotes)
Ever wonder how Amazon continues to offer those low prices, that quick delivery, that effortless consumer experience? David Golumbia wrote a piece (The Amazonization of Everything) for Jacobin explaining who pays and how.